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The Principle of Contradiction and Ecthesis in Aristotle's Syllogistic

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In his 1910 book On the principle of contradiction in Aristotle, Jan Łukasiewicz claims that syllogistic is independent of the principle of contradiction (PC). He also argues that Aristotle would have defended such a thesis in the Posterior Analytics. In this paper, we first show that Łukasiewicz's arguments for these two claims have to be rejected. Then, we show that the thesis of the independence of assertoric syllogistic vis-√†-vis PC is nevertheless true. For that purpose, we first establish that there is no possibility to account for Aristotle's original views on syllogistic without using per impossibile deductions. At last, following an idea due to Smith 1983, we prove that there is a complete reconstruction of assertoric syllogistic using ecthesis instead of reductio ad absurdum. Contrary to what is claimed in Smith 1983, we show that Smith's system SE has to be improved for such a reconstruction. This results in an ecthetic system which is complete with respect to syllogistic arguments, not explosive and independent of PC.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Université de Rennes 1, France

Publication date: July 3, 2014

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